Virtual Cathedral Project

The architecture and artefacts of Rochester Cathedral are being modelled in high-resolution, making hundreds of features available to view online in 3D for the first time. Many architectural elements and sculpture are in inaccessible locations or are difficult to inspect from the cathedral floor.

The primary aim of the project is the completion of a database of 3D models of the cathedral and its collections with which all features and elements are recorded and available to view in high-resolution from any angle. A Virtual Tour is now available on the cathedral website. These models also serve as a valuable record of irreplaceable medieval art at risk of further weathering or damage.

Features are recorded photographically from multiple angles and models are constructed by software in a process called Structure from Motion (SfM) photogrammetry. The SfM software (Agisoft Metashape) uses common reference points within sets of photographs to establish dimensions and construct photo-realistic 3D models.

All models are available online through host Sketchfab and are compatible with desktops, mobile devices and virtual-reality headsets.

Screenshot 2020-05-13 20.55.17
Find out more about Sketchfab and virtual reality here.

The enormous task of collating the interpretation behind the Virtual Tour and the reconstructions of the Anglo-Saxon and Early Norman cathedrals is the fruit of many individuals time and expertise. Their efforts are acknowledged in the relevant model descriptions and will be detailed in the final report.

The SfM software license has been funded by the Friends of Rochester Cathedral and the project makes extensive use of the 10-metre aerial work platform purchased by the Friends in 2007.

fig_1-9_lighter
Jacob Scott making use of the aerial work platform to record high level features. Photo: Alex Pitcher

New models are published daily and a collection will be featured each week on the Virtual Cathedral Blog. Create an account at Sketchfab.com and subscribe to Rochester Cathedral Research Guild for notifications of future uploads, or follow progress on Rochester Cathedral social media.

Use the contact form at the top of this page to get in touch and find out more.